The town of Bluffton intends to spend an estimated $89,000 to study a new route for a planned extension of Bluffton Parkway in hopes that a section of the project can be realigned.
County engineering plans for the new road, which will lengthen Bluffton Parkway and eliminate a mile-long jog on Buckwalter Parkway, were adopted in 2008 after a series of studies and public hearings.
Bluffton officials and developer John Reed have asked the county to reroute the proposed road where it intersects Buckwalter Parkway.
Reed opposes the original route because it would run through a development his company has planned.
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Town leaders say the new route will maximize economic development in the area. It could be cheaper, too, they say, because Reed will donate much of the land needed for the project if the road is rerouted.
Beaufort County Council's Public Facilities Committee voted unanimously Tuesday not to stand in Bluffton's way if the town is willing to redo the necessary studies, permits and public hearings on its own dime.
That doesn't mean council has accepted the new alignment.
"We have no problem with you doing it at your expense," said Councilman Jerry Stewart. "But you have to understand, there is no pre-commitment on our part until we see the results of public hearings and all the information that comes forward."
The alternate route would shift the intersection of Bluffton and Buckwalter parkways about 400 feet north and would bring the road closer to the Townes at Buckwalter. Revised financial calculations include $450,000 for a noise wall, but it's not clear if the wall will be needed until a new noise study can be completed.
Bluffton transportation project manager Karen Jarrett estimated after the meeting that the new studies might take about six months.
Mayor Lisa Sulka said after the meeting that town officials feel the reroute will be worth the $89,000 price. She said the town doesn't have a funding source immediately identified.
Follow reporter Kyle Peterson at twitter.com/EyeOnBeaufortCo.